In preparation for my trip across the pond, I've been enjoying my nightly reading routine. And for the last five months I've read everything from understanding the Danish way of life (Jante and Hygge) to mastering the art of French eating, I haven't quite mastered anything but I'm working on it. I'm no expert by any means but there are few lifestyle changes Americans need to adopt, these are just a few I'm trying to incorporate into my daily routine.
1. More life and less work. I'm not saying Americans work themselves to death but the stress of being the best and almost being expected to become workaholics, no wonder our mental health is in the state it is in. We're known for being fiercely competitive and overly ambitious, I once read, "anxiety is the handmaiden of contemporary ambition" and I wholeheartedly agree. When I'm out with friends, we talk more about work than anything less. Take advice from the Europeans and focus on life more and less about work.
2. When it comes to food, America is probably the worst country in the world. Welcome to fast food nation and frozen meals for dinner. I'm very guilty about this but through my books, I've learned that buying fresh, the real stuff (no additives) and unprocessed food is so much healthier than most of the crap in our grocery stores. In fact, skip the grocery store all together and shop at farmers markets or local grocers instead of chain stores. Also, slow down. I'm not saying you need to eat as slow as the French, but there's so much more to food than just fueling up. Food is culture. Food is an experience, think about what it smells like, what does it taste like? I love going to new places with my guy because we actually talk a lot about food and cooking, thank god he's an awesome cook because I'm worthless in the kitchen. We're such foodies, we've even talked about planning trips solely for food purposes.
3. Get outdoors more. There's a whole section on spending more time outside in How to Hygge. I'm now going to the park almost every Sunday to read and do other crafty things. The outdoors is so much more than just getting in an exercise, marvel at the beauty that is nature people!!!
4. When it comes to language, Americans (specifically White Americans) are at a disadvantage. We're so arrogant into thinking everyone should speak English, that it should be a universal language. The rest of the world speaks at least two languages, challenge yourself to learn a new language this year! My parents are Irish and French, so I'm taking it upon myself to learn the language of my ancestors.
5. I love that the Irish go to the bars after church. I'm not encouraging anyone to become an alcoholic but there's something to be said about the pub culture in Ireland. Traditionally the church, pubs and local football clubs were the place for social interaction in rural Ireland. The pub was where the village met, stories were exchanged and the fun was had. The atmosphere and warmth of Irish pubs is just so inviting that many cities around the world adopt the Irish approach to drinking, conversation and making sure everyone is having a good time. The sense of community is so important and in a country that is very individualistic, there's a lot to learn from the friendliest people on the planet.